1st time printmaker

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by onadraw, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. onadraw

    onadraw Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I made some contact prints and a few enlargements for the first time. I got some good results and I have a lot to learn.

    Couple questions:

    I'm using a Gralab timer. Why is it necessary to plug the safelight into the timer and have it go off during the paper exposure? It seems like the safelight could just stay on all the time.

    Also, I'm using an easel with two adjustable arms and I don't know what I'm doing. Anyone care to share "how to use a 2 blade easel"?

    Thanks
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,026
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Glad you are enjoying yourself.

    On the safelight question, it is important to understand that "safelight" is a relative term. Anything that shortens the amount of safelight exposure will help assure that the safelight adds no fog. Anything that extends the safelight exposure increases the risk that the light won't really be safe.

    Remember that for some prints, you can end up with print times of several minutes, when all dodging and burning is included.

    And for the easel, what sort of problems are you having? If they are related to achieving equal margins, I would suggest starting either with a scrap print or a sheet of paper cut to the right size, and experiment in the light with the adjustments - remember that you can use a pencil to indicate the edges of the printed area.
     
  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,414
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The safelight can stay on all the time. But you should test it to see if it fogs your paper. take a piece of the paper you use, a small piece will do, lay a coin on it and set it on your easel with only the safelight on. give it a minute or two and process it . If there's a darkening of the area around the coin the light isn't completely safe and needs to be changed to a different color or moved further away
    Two armed easels are meant to have the paper pushed to the upper left hand corner and the arms adjusted to the print size you want. You will need to trim the paper if you're printing smaller sizes. A four blade easel will allow you to make more even borders though.
     
  4. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,438
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    On the two bladed easel, measure the border under the fixed arms, then set the adjustable arms to give the same border for the print size. On my two blade easel, I have lines drawn on the board and marked for the print sizes I use, then all I have to do is move the arm to the correct line that matches my print.
     
  5. onadraw

    onadraw Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm having a hard time getting straight borders when using the easel. The 2 enlargements I liked best were made without the easel by laying the paper directly on the baseboard. Is it really necessary to use an easel?
     
  6. andrewf

    andrewf Member

    Messages:
    34
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I never used an easel when I used to print but then you can have a problem with paper that doesn't sit flat on the base board which renders the picture out of focus in the centre of the print. Mainly an issue with smaller sizes.
     
  7. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,002
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another reason the safe light goes out during exposure is it makes it easier to see the paper while dodging/burning.
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,026
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Some easels have been bent or are out of alignment, so check to see if that is your problem.

    And blades can loosen over time (especially with 2 blade models), so check that.

    There is a bit of technique involved in positioning paper into an open easel, and then closing it without moving the paper, so it may be that you need to practise that in the light.
     
  9. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

    Messages:
    1,300
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Also make sure the paper stop is adjusted for the border width you want and that it is square to the frame, then you adjust the moveable arms to be square to the frame.
     
  10. zsas

    zsas Member

    Messages:
    1,961
    Joined:
    May 12, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Congrats for your accomplishment! Great advice above, nothing to add but a congrats!
     
  11. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

    Messages:
    1,205
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi, You will find many opinions as to safe light use/types etc.
    First as reccomended find out how safe it is. If you can do the coint test and not notice an issue after 5 to 10 minutes you are ok. (Not all papers react the same).
    I leave mine ON when printing, have for decades. I use flourescent tubes with OC filters and bouced the light off a white ceiling.
    A word of warning for anyone reading... THE NEW HIGH EFFICENCY SPIRAL BULBS CONTINUE TO FLOURECE AFTER THEY ARE SWITCHED OFF... THEY MAY FOG FILM IF THEY ARE IN YOUR LOADING ROOM!

    Chreers..
     
  12. onadraw

    onadraw Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks guys. I'm learning.
     
  13. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,438
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One thing you may want to consider as to a safelight, color. A red safelight positioned approx. one meter or more from your work area is far safer than an OC safelight, and for some papers is required. My red light(5x7 Premier) gives me well over 30 minutes of open time with any paper before showing signs of fogging. It is safer to use the safe light option on the timer for any light, giving extra time before the paper will start to fog.

    BTW, for got to congratulate you on joining a dwindling group of folks that hold dear, the art of wet printing. Continue on having fun, I've been at it for nearing a half century, and it's still magic.
     
  14. onadraw

    onadraw Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    This was my first enlargement. Its 8x10 from a 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negative.


    dad.jpg
     
  15. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,570
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Looks like you're off to a good start. Congratulations on your first darkroom prints!
     
  16. andrewf

    andrewf Member

    Messages:
    34
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thats a pretty clean enlargement for a first go! Mine was covered in fingerprints and dust! Nice work!
     
  17. Molli

    Molli Subscriber

    Messages:
    636
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Location:
    Victoria, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Very nice work! While comparisons may be odious, I have to say, if I'd been making prints like yours from the outset I'd never, ever want to leave the darkroom! :smile:
     
  18. RPippin

    RPippin Subscriber

    Messages:
    286
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Location:
    Staunton VA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When I used a two bladed easel I found it helpful to square up the blades with a tape measure first and then simply put a strip of tape where they cross to keep them from drifting apart. I also switched to a Thomas Duplex safelight and leave it on the whole time I'm printing. It's bright enough to read by and I've never had any problem with paper fogging. I did an experiment once to test for paper fogging with the coins after being shocked to see all the light leaks in my darkroom. I used to only print at night to be safe, but after installing the Thomas I decided to test in the daytime, light leaks and all, and to my surprise there were no problems with fogging. Keep at it and have fun, it wont be long before you get where you want to be. You might also think about taking a workshop or find other darkroom users and hang out in their darkrooms to see how other folks work.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,026
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This is a really good idea that in 40+ years of using easels never occurred to me - thank you!
     
  20. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,231
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Paterson do three fixed size easels(5x7,8x10 and I think 12x16). Easy to use with absolutely straight and equal borders but of course no option to alter border sizes and of no use with paper outside of the 3 sizes mentioned.

    As you are new to printing I'd be inclined to go with fixed easels. Good 2 bladed ones which can be altered for different border sizes and different sizes of paper are expensive. Good 4 bladed ones are even more expensive.

    pentaxuser